Reftagger

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Narrative Shift

David had endured years of violence and uprising running from Saul as rightful King and now he would experience it again- this time everything he had spent his life building would be at stake. After Nathan delivers God’s indictment of his double-sin: murder and adultery, there is a complete change in the narrative of the Book(s) of Samuel (1 and 2 Samuel should be understood as one book). Up until this point, Samuel focuses on David’s rise to power. After this, everything in the main narrative goes down hill. In the same way, after we sin the natural results of the sin or God’s justice may dramatically alter the course of our lives in a negative way. David was acquitted of the punishment he legally deserved: death; however, David still experienced God’s wrath in the law of retribution. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Exo 21:24) or for David- sexual relations with another’s wife will happen to him and violence he committed against Uriah will happen within his own family. 

Immediately after the close of the adultery pericope, an entirely new narrative emerges centering around the turmoil in David’s life caused by the rebellion of Absalom. Notice this all happens after, David repented. First, David’s son Amnon rapes his step-sister, Tamar, whom David had with another wife. Not only was irreparable pain brought to Tamar, her chances of marriage were greatly harmed by the loss of her virginity. Tamar was scarred for life emotionally and perhaps physically, but also culturally. Due to the vile wickedness of Amnon, Absalom grew to hate his step-brother. (2 Sam 13)

“Now Absalom, David’s son son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar.” (2 Sam 13:1a; emp added)
 In the Hebrew the “Now Absalom” literally says, “And after this Absalom”. This opening phrase tells us that the description of Ammon’s rape of Tamar is given as a cause of Absalom’s rebellion. The rest of the book, with an exception of an appendix, focuses on Absalom’s rebellion and the subsequent turmoil in David’s kingdom. Absalom’s murder for Ammon was consummated in murder. Eventually, this led to Absalom attempting a coup and forced David to flee Jerusalem, with Absalom assuming the throne (2 Sam 13:20-15).
While David fled in the wilderness, on some advice Absalom decided to sleep with some of David’s concubines, responsible for maintaining the palace, out in view of everyone; in fulfillment of God’s curse :

“And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. ...You did it secretly, but I will do this [in public]” (2 Sam 12:12-13)
 Absalom did this specifically to bring shame to his father’s name (2 Sam 16:21-22). In those days, sleeping with King’s wives was a claim to his throne- Absalom publicly made a stake to his father’s throne and humiliated him by sleeping with his palace maidens.
So Absalom sent his army after David to pursue him and bring back his body dead so that his kingship, legitimizing his kingship. In the course of the ensuing battle, Absalom was killed and David mourned, though this meant the restoration of his rule (2 Sam 18:33-19:2).
Once the transfer of power back to David began, a man named Sheba opposed his reinstatement as King and he was quickly defeated (2 Sam 20).
This was only a very short summary of a lengthy narrative of Absalom’s rebellion. In violence, David fought with his son for control over his throne, much like he committed violence against Uriah. In the process he lost two sons (Amnon and Absalom), had a shamed and scarred daughter (Tamar) and devastating physical and reputation damage to David’s kingdom. A dramatic shift in the narrative, all because of David’s sin.
Much like the sins in our lives, God can spare us from the rightful punishment- death. God can keep the promises and blessings he has given us, but still execute justice. David experience irreparable suffering through this rebellion. That is why sin can never be allowed to rise in the first place. Even if God does not give us the punishment we deserve, there will be consequences- even after repentance.

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